Stickler and Hat-trick, in association with Comixpedia present…
Stickler and Hat-trick at the Keyboard
This week, they review JJ McCullough’s Filibuster !
(This month’s show is sponsored by FBI Diapers. Guaranteed not to leak.)
HAT-TRICK: Ahhh. Another edition of "Stickler and Hat-Trick At the Keyboard!" Before we discuss the comic, I have something to announce.
STICKER: Okay. Go ahead.
HT: I just want to take this opportunity to say that I’m running for governor of California.
S: Um, they already had the recall election.
HT: They did? Who won?
S: Julius Benedict… no wait, Detective John Kimble. Or maybe it was Douglas Quaid. Harry Tasker? Conan something? Ahh, I forget.
HT: Well, I’ll just run next time.
S: Fair enough… You might have noticed that there are not many online cartoons that fall into the political category. Sure, you can find printed editorial cartoons on the web, but web exclusive political cartoons are a rare breed.
HT: Why is that?
S: I imagine it’s because it takes a lot of extra work to keep up with everyday news events. The material is constantly drawn upon from real people, events, and places.
HT: So, they’re like journal comics?
S: Yes. No.
S: Maybe so?
HT: Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that JJ McCullough knows his stuff. And he’s only 19!
S: This time we focus our attention on a political cartoon, Filibuster, created by the aforementioned 19 year old.
HT: Filibuster currently posts three days a week with full color cartoons. There is no set format for the strips. Some are one-panel gags, while others require more vertical space and several panels.
S: Which works fine. He does what he needs to in order to tell the joke.
HT: The cartoon itself works wonderfully right from the first strip. The jokes are witty and satirical, and usually nonpartisan.
S: Although, McCullough himself can be very opinionated in his accompanying "real story" text that comes with every strip. It reads more like a "my real opinion" segment, and while it explains the real events that inspire the current strip, it sometimes comes off as a one-sided rant.
HT: guy’s entitled to his opinion.
S: Of course! It should also be noted that McCullough is Canadian, so there is a good deal of focus on Canada’s political hububbery.
HT: Reading the "real story" isn’t really necessary to enjoying the comic…but sometimes it helps figuring out what’s going on and whom everyone in the strip is. Like, before I read the archives of Filibuster, I had no idea who Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was. By reading more and more strips, I really got a sense of who this guy is. I can look at figures I DO know, like Bush, Cheney, and Powell, see how McCullough interprets them, and apply the same degree of interpretation to those other people.
S: While there is no real main character in this cartoon, and the topics are based on real events, the strips with the dominating political figures seem like main characters in a silly ongoing storyline.
HT: And there is a cast page, go figure.
S: Yes, but it’s not really necessary.
HT: Yeah, but even the political figures that I’ve never heard of become absurd little versions of themselves through McCullough’s pen, and it made me want to learn more about them.
S: I enjoyed the art style very much. It was unique and easily inviting, which I think is important for an online political cartoon. The online audience is generally younger and has a shorter attention span than people who read political cartoons in newspapers.
HT: The style is very clean and animated. It’s not heavy on pen strokes like the editorial cartoons you’d find in the daily newspaper. Instead he’s sticking with more shape-based caricatures, using thick lines and flat color.
S: The thicker lines are an improvement from the earlier strips. The newer ones definitely pop out more.
HT: One thing that did kinda bug me was the inconsistency of the dialogue presentation. Sometimes word bubbles are used, sometimes he just uses directional lines.
S: Some might find the very static computer font a little bland, but I think when you are trying to get a political joke across, it’s important that you can read everything. Plus, the font McCullough is using goes well with the very geometric style of the cartoons.
HT: Okay, I’ll give you that.
S: While I enjoyed the strips, the navigation of the site was extremely problematic. Early archived strips don’t have any kind of "next" or "previous" buttons. On every page with a strip before mid-2002, I had to scroll down to see the bottom of the cartoon, because of unnecessary dead space on the top of the page.
HT: Yeah, that was annoying. I also noticed that once the pages received "next" buttons, many of them didn’t work. Going back and forth to the archive gets a bit tedious after a while. Also, a few of the links to the news stories that McCullough place in the "real story" section do not work either.
S: There are some interesting informational resource pages on the site created by McCullough, such as the "Leaders in Uniform" page and the "Guide to Canada". There is also a nice behind the scenes page, which shows the process of McCullough uses to create the political cartoons.
HT: Other than some navigation issues on the site, Filibuster is a fun read, and educational too!
S: Oh! I remember, it’s Mr. Freeze. He’s the new California governor.
S: Cool indeed.